Parliament to Cope: Who is your leader?

Just 17 days before this year’s opening of Parliament, the ongoing power war being waged between Congress of the People (Cope) co-founders Mosiuoa Lekota and Mbhazima Shilowa has the institution confused.

In a statement issued on Monday afternoon, it called on Cope to sort out who is in charge of the party.

“Parliament has written to Mr Mosiuoa Lekota and Mr Mbhazima Shilowa requesting the Congress of the People to resolve urgently its leadership dispute and inform Parliament accordingly.

“This follows the receipt by Parliament of a letter from Mr Lekota on December 17 2010, in which Parliament was informed that the leadership structure of Cope, as elected in 2008, would continue.

“On January 19 2011, Parliament received a letter from Mr Shilowa advising Parliament that Cope had held an elective conference from December 15 to 17, at which Mr Shilowa had been elected president of Cope,” it said.

Earlier on Monday, Lekota told a media briefing — held at Cope’s parliamentary offices — that his party’s national committee was “the only legitimate body to continue to manage the affairs of the party”.

The media briefing follows a weekend sitting of what Phillip Dexter, Cope MP and spokesperson for Lekota, called Cope’s national committee (CNC).

Among other decisions taken on Saturday, the committee announced the suspension of Shilowa, and several of his supporters, from the party.

Shilowa’s camp have rejected the CNC’s decision to suspend him, saying the sitting “was not an official meeting of the party”.

The Cope power battle is being fought just months ahead of local government elections.

‘Fair amount of uncertainty’
Asked on Monday what impact he thought this would have on the party’s voters, Lekota conceded it was causing confusion.

“Obviously there’s a fair amount of uncertainty because people would like to have some clarity as to who, ultimately, is the leadership of the Congress of the People,” he said.

But on Cope’s showing in the coming election, he said it was set to surprise people.

“We will do our utmost best … We will surprise a number of people … in a very good way.

“It will be surprising if the voters of this country will turn their backs on the Congress of the People for fighting corruption in its own ranks,” he said.

Many of the comments being posted on media websites below reports of the Lekota-Shilowa power battle suggest otherwise.

“Come [the] election, the voters will stop this madness,” one disgruntled Cope supporter proclaimed on one website.

Cope also announced on Monday it was disbanding its party structures in Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape.

“CNC task teams have been established in these provinces and preparations will take place to hold democratic, properly constituted congresses both at provincial and regional level,” it said. — Sapa

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Indians in South Africa, a historical excerpt

In the book, The Indian Africans, academic Kiru Naidoo explores the society of colonial Natal in the late 1800s to early 1900

A colossus with feet of clay

South Africa is disproportionately targeted by cybercriminals. Digital attacks call for digital solutions and technology is a the prime weapon in this fight

The president, the preacher and the great escape

Malawi’s new president was furious after Shepherd Bushiri’s dramatic disappearance from South Africa

Patel: South Africa on target to attract R1.2-trillion in investments

The trade minister says the country is on track to reach more than R1-trillion worth of investments over five years, despite Covid-19 disruptions

South Africa must revisit and refresh its idea of itself

Covid has propelled citizens into feelings of a new shared identity in which the historical force of ‘whiteness’ is fading into irrelevance

Institutions of higher learning should commemorate their casualties

The bust of Matikweni Nkuna at Tshwane University of Technology is an example of how we should honour those who fought for equal access to education

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

More top stories

War of words at Zondo commission: ‘Grow up Mr Gordhan,...

The cross-examination of the public enterprises minister by Tom Moyane’s lawyers at the state capture inquiry went on well into overtime on Monday evening

‘Where the governments see statistics, I see the faces of...

Yvette Raphael describes herself as a ‘professional protester, sjambok feminist and hater of trash’. Government officials would likely refer to her as ‘a rebel’. She’s fought for equality her entire life, she says. And she’s scared of no one

Covid-19 stems ‘white’ gold rush

The pandemic hit abalone farmers fast and hard. Prices have dropped and backers appear to be losing their appetite for investing in the delicacy

Al-Shabab’s terror in Mozambique

Amid reports of brutal, indiscriminate slaughter, civilians bear the brunt as villages are abandoned and the number of refugees nears half a million

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…